In this Q&A, we catch up with Dean Main – founder and major shareholder of luxury residence management company, Rhodium – about the success of the prime central London (PCL) market, the future of Rhodium, and dealing with high-profile investors, including the Monaco Royal Family.
Tell us a bit about your background in property. What interested you about property investment?
I started my career at Topland Group, run by Sol and Eddie Zakay. They were one of the largest privately-owned commercial property companies in the UK and this was a fantastic opportunity to learn about property and finance. After five years, I decided to go out on my own.
Do you think it’s more challenging to invest in the super-prime London market rather than in other sectors of the market?
It is certainly a challenge considering the variety of different factors to consider when investing in any type of real estate. However, in my experience, super-prime can be exceptionally risky.
The main risk factors are heavily geared towards identifying true construction costs, coupled with planning restraints and delays. Understanding exit values is also another area that can be hugely risky as there are so many different factors that contribute to the value of a property at that particular time.
Super-prime residential is very much an emotional purchase so the value of similar assets can vary significantly.
How important would you say it is to go against market sentiment and invest heavily in high-end residential real estate – as you have done?
I have always taken a long-term investment strategy when identifying opportunities. Investing in London last year could have been perceived as highly risky; however, my partners and I saw huge potential long term as we fundamentally believe in London and what it has to offer on so many levels.
Now that we’ve entered a new decade, what is the long-term plan for Rhodium?
We have hit some significant milestones last year and our longer-term plan is to continue to focus on our core market in London, however, we are exploring taking Rhodium to the US.
One of your most notable transactions was the acquisition of 19 Wilton Crescent, Belgravia in 2014 for a figure of £25 million. What would you say is your biggest achievement so far?
Rhodium has been a significant challenge for me, and this year marks our 10-year anniversary. Our portfolio has reached £11 billion and we have been given the opportunity to manage some of the finest real estate in the world which for me is very humbling.
What is the most exciting aspect of the PCL market?
Each development represents a different vision and it’s exciting to see schemes that have been in the making for over a decade come to fruition.
How did the Monaco Royal Family come to be involved in Rhodium?
We had a mutual friend who introduced us. They were fascinated with the business and wanted to get involved very early on. We sold a 10% stake in Rhodium and they remain an active and helpful shareholder today.
You have quite a large property investment portfolio and new business ventures under your belt. What’s next on your radar?
I am very interested in PropTech and recently started to invest in companies that I believe will disrupt our market. Together with my partners, I led an angel round of investment for flatfair – a deposit alternative startup – that will, in my opinion, change the way we rent property. flatfair has just secured a series A funding of $11 million, led by Index Ventures investors into Facebook, YouTube and Deliveroo.